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TIP 15A01-02 - FL Tax Exemptions for Pet Food & Veterinarians

A veterinarian checking on a dog

Grocery products for people are generally exempt from sales tax in Florida. The food for our furry friends is not extended the same courtesy. A new TIP released on February 6, 2015 by the Department of Revenue identifies an exception to the general rule. TIP 15A01-02 identifies that effective July 1, 2014, "therapeutic veterinary diets" are also exempt from Florida Sales Tax. The TIP, linked below, identifies an exemption found in NEW section 212.08(2)(i), Florida Statutes. This section provides an exemption for "[s]ales of therapeutic veterinary diets specifically formulated to aid in the management of illness and disease of a diagnosed health disorder in an animal and which are only available from a licensed veterinarian." Meaning, foods dispensed by a veterinarian to treat maladies in animals are tax exempt if the food is available exclusively through a veterinarian. Foods which are available for purchase from grocery stores, pet stores or the local farm supply are not included in this limited exemption.[i] To illustrate, the TIP gives the following examples:

Example: "ABC cat food" is marketed as specifically formulated to manage bladder health in cats. ABC cat food is only available through a licensed veterinarian. Since ABC cat food is specifically formulated to aid in the management of bladder health in cats and is sold only through a licensed veterinarian, ABC cat food is exempt from sales tax as a therapeutic veterinary diet.

Example: "EFG dog food" is marketed as specifically formulated for dogs over 10 years of age. EFG dog food is available through various retailers and licensed veterinarians. Since EFG dog food is not available exclusively from a licensed veterinarian, it is not a therapeutic veterinary diet exempt from sales tax. EFG dog food is subject to sales tax.

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The TIP seems to focus on the sale to consumers, and does not identify, [ii]however, that the purchase of these items by a veterinary office is also exempt. On the purchase side, section 212.08(2)(h) identifies that items purchased by veterinarians which possess curative or remedial properties and used to treat a diagnosed health disorder are also exempt. This exemption is not limited to only therapeutic foods, but is rather broad. Rule 12A-1.0215, Florida Administrative Code, identifies that substances that possess curative or remedial properties are exempt when 1) purchased by a veterinarian who dispenses them for diagnosed health disorder and 2) used to alleviate pain, or cure or prevent sickness, disease or suffering. This extends to gauzes, lotions, vitamins, antiseptics and flea powders. The list in the rule is non-exhaustive, and appears to cover much of a veterinary practice's purchases.

However, many items purchased and consumed by a veterinarian practice are still taxable to the veterinarian. This includes gloves, syringes, medical equipment such as x ray machines, and identification chips. These items are still taxable to the vet or are taxable to the customer is sold directly to our furry friends (or to their human friends).

While this TIP does provide some guidance, there are still a myriad of sales tax issues facing veterinarians and pet owners alike. The key, for both consumers and veterinarians to remember, is that in order be exempt, food product must be available exclusively through the licensed veterinarian. Veterinarians can purchase tax exempt certain items used for the prevention of sickness, disease or suffering. However, items such as gloves and machinery used in the veterinary practice are not exempt from tax when purchased. If a veterinary practice purchases these items without paying sales tax, then the practice must pay use tax.

Amanda Levine; florida sales tax attorney; florida sales tax audit; Naples sales tax attorney; naples sales tax audit

About the author: Ms. Levine is an associate attorney with the Law Offices of Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, P.A. Her primary practice area is Florida sales and use tax controversy. Ms. Levine received a B.S. in Accounting from University of Central Florida. She spent several years working in public accounting before attending Nova Southeastern University Law School. She received her Juris Doctorate in 2014. During her time at Nova Law, Ms. Levine was the Executive Justice of Academics for the Moot Court Honor Society, as well as the Finance Chair. She was awarded by the National Order of the Barrister, a national honor society which encourages oral advocacy and brief writing skills.


Sec. 212.08(2)(h), F.S. – Exempt purchases by veterinarians

Sec. 212.08(2)(i), F.S. – Exempt sales by veterinarians

Rule 12A-1.0215, F.A.C. – Exemptions for veterinarians

TIP 15A01-02 – Discussion of the exemptions for veterinarians


FL TAX - VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE CAN BE THE PERFECT SOLUTION, published on October 5, 2012, by Jerry Donnini, Esq.

IS RENT SUBJECT TO FLORIDA SALES TAX?, published January 26, 2015, by Jerry Donnini, Esq.

MIAMI RESTAURANT OWNER - 5 YEARS FOR SALES TAX FRAUD, published May 28, 2014, by James Sutton, CPA, Esq.

[i] There appears to be a presumption in the statute that it is readily known that a particular product is only available from a veterinarian. Because exemptions are strictly construed against the taxpayer, the burden would be on both the vet and the customer to prove that the medicine is not available other than through a veterinarian.

[ii] The picture of the every so cute puppy is Luna, the author's dog.